While many students currently on campus are probably familiar with the Outback, many incoming students may not know that there’s an opportunity to experience some outdoor fun and simultaneously meet new people before the school year even begins. For those who desire this option, the Pacific Voyages program is an enormous benefit.

Pacific Voyages is a program put on by the Pacific Outback, which helps coordinate day-long and weekend trips for those at Pacific. Whether you’re a grad student, an undergraduate or a staff or faculty member, the Outback provides the opportunity to experience off-campus recreation at a highly-discounted rate from what someone would experience on their own.

Pacific Voyages is catered to incoming students, both freshmen and transfers, who would like to get a head start on the nonacademic side of Pacific. The students arrive earlier than the rest of the freshman crowd and after moving into their dorms, they embark on a four to five day journey for a specific outdoor activity.

A faculty member accompanies the students on the trip, but the groups are really led by Pacific upperclassmen, often impressed after a great experience with their voyage. These students have undergone more than 300 hours of training, ranging from first responders instruction that keep the voyagers safe, to leadership courses that help them effectively manage the trip. At the end of the training, the student leaders have undergone preparation similar to that of Outward Bound.

For the 2012 season, there are 15 different trips in three different time slots, or waves. The waves concept came about in order to better serve the interests of students who wanted to attend a voyage but were already arriving on campus early due to sports or other activities. Some voyages scheduled for August 2012 include rafting, sea kayaking, backpacking, surfing, rock climbing and civic engagement voyages.

Over the summer, the Pacific Outback will be busy preparing for Voyages, even having two students work full time. The Outback will be busy preparing equipment, scouting for locations, obtaining permits and vehicles and other such tasks.  According to Voyages Coordinator Phil Friesen, the program served 91 incoming students last year and will likely top that this year. This is expected to be about a quarter of the incoming class.

Voyage leaders are recruited every fall, but for those who want even more involvement, The Outback has formed a partnership with the outdoor leadership minor offered at Pacific. The new minor helps those who take it prepare to be involved in programs like The Outback, absorbing leadership skills whilst engaging in outdoor activities like backpacking and canoeing.

One thing is certain: the Pacific Voyages program continues to be a strong influence on Pacific’s culture.

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